Top 5 Violin Concertos of All-Time

Ranking the top five violin concertos of all-time is not an easy task. And for the record, I reserve the right to change my mind down the road.

Let’s get right to it. I don’t want to blather with some bullshit backstory. Also, I’m not going to get technical. Yes, I am a Composer. But that doesn’t mean I have to make this so complicated that non-composers will be scratching their heads.

I’m going to talk about feelings. Yes, feelings. And moods. So for these rankings, we’re going to be the opposite of technical.

#5 – Sibelius Violin Concerto

What a melancholic piece! But what do you expect from Finland? It’s fucking cold over there. I’d be melancholic too.

Sibelius ventures in between the lines of late Romanticism and early Modernism. He experiments with some dissonance. Sure, there was plenty of dissonance since Beethoven’s later string quartets. But this violin concerto is borderline post-Romantic.

#4 – Brahms’ Violin Concerto

I actually prefer Brahms’ Dual Concerto over this piece. But it’s a dual concerto – violin & cello. It can’t be ranked with this group.

Still, damn good concerto. I rank Brahms as the most underrated and most underappreciated composer. He’s one of the best, but rarely do I hear people refer to his work as passionately as they do for Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, or Bach. (I threw Bach in there despite the fact that I fucking hate Baroque and studied it only because I had to).

This violin concerto is classic Brahms. If you enjoy his four symphonies (I especially enjoy his 1st and 4th), I can guarantee you’ll love this piece as well. There are pieces within the concerto where you just know Brahms had an unshakeable confidence within himself. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you hear it.

The melodies scream Johannes Brahms. They’ll touch you. They’ll grip you. And you’ll feel something, unless of course you have no soul.

#3 – Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto

I freaking love this piece! Of the five, it’s probably the simplest. I studied the notes thoroughly when working on some of my compositions.

Despite its relative simplicity, Mendelssohn has a way with melody. His melodies simply are memorable.

Sure, many folks would rank Brahms’ concerto ahead of this one. I’ll stick to my guns and put Mendelssohn’s as #3. Simply put, I fell in love with the melodies all the way back in high school and have never looked back.

#2 – Bruch’s First Violin Concerto

“Who the fuck is Max Bruch?” That’s what I initially asked when I bought Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and this one was on the back, all the way back in the late 80s.

Of all the ironies. I ended up liking Bruch’s even more than Mendelssohn’s.

This piece is magical. Remember the first time you went to Disneyland as a kid and were uncontrollably happy in Fantasyland? That’s how I feel when I listen to this concerto. It really is magical.

No matter how bad a day I’m having (unless someone I care about dies), this concerto will fix it.

#1 – Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

The best violin concerto ever? How about the best piece of music ever written? Well, I wouldn’t go that far. It’s the second best piece of music ever written after Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique.

Yes, Tchaikovsky’s piano playing could make you either want to fuck, cry, or punch someone in the face. He was a pianist, not a violinist. Then how did he manage to write something this great for the violin? It’s because he’s Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, that’s why.

You hear this and you hear his Piano Concerto #1 and you’ll understand why I rank him above even the great Beethoven as the greatest composer who ever lived.

Nobody wrote melodies like Tchaikovsky. Nobody. His melodies melt people. His melodies emote better than anyone before and anyone after. And besides his 6th Symphony, this is his best piece.

You left out a bunch of great violin concertos

No shit. I said top five violin concertos and had to cut this down to five. I regretfully leave out anything by Paganini. As you probably already know, Paganini wrote the book on the violin. He pretty much invented every trick in the book.

He wasn’t however a great composer. Paganini ruled as a performer and trickster. His melodies though are good, not great.

And of course Beethoven. Sorry Beethoven fans. I rank him as the #1 symphony composer of all-time, ahead of even my beloved Tchaikovsky. But his violin concerto was good, not great. It simply doesn’t rank ahead of any of these violin concertos I just mentioned.

If you wanted me to rank anything non-Romantic, I’ve said before why I favor Romanticism above all else. Not gonna happen. I’m a Romantic. I can practically name everything I liked before Romanticism and after Romanticism on one piece of paper (of course, not including my beloved Metal music).

The Romantic era of music ruled. But then again, I’m a man of wealth and taste. Plenty of folk have the former but not too many have the latter.

Agree? Disagree? Don’t be afraid to say why or why not.

About

Roman is an artist, composer, writer, and travel junkie, and he can still throw a football

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